Elkhart City Council weighing an ordinance to fund investigation of police department

Surveillance video shows Elkhart officers punching a handcuffed suspect // Photo provided

The Elkhart City Council is weighing an ordinance to fund an independent investigation of the city's police department.

It would take $150,000 dollars out of the city’s general riverboat fund to pay for it.

Council members received a lot of public input on this issue.

The money was requested by Mayor Neese after a video of two police officer punching a handcuffed suspect and department disciplinary issues.

Several council members say they don't know if they want to fund the investigation.

Others say they hope it will clean up some of issues in the department.

The video of two officers punching a handcuffed man is now prompting a possible independent assessment of the Elkhart Police Department.

The hurdle the city still has to get over is funding the investigation.

“Everybody agrees that there needs to be a study of our police department based on what has happened in the past,” said Brent Curry, 5th District Elkhart Councilman.

The ordinance to fund the assessment would take $150,000 out of a fund generated by gambling fees.

The amount of money needed has some members of the public and council members questioning the necessity of a full-on assessment.

"I, too, had some hesitancy regarding that level of money,” said Brian Dickerson, Elkhart City Council President. “However, I do consider it a bit of an investment at this point.”

Council President Brian Dickerson says he hopes any assessment of the department would help reassure the public.

"I want to make sure that we can demonstrate to the public that we have proper training policies and other appropriate measures in place to protect the public and make sure we’re doing a professional job,” said Dickerson.

Councilman Brent Curry wants to hear more public input and says the most important thing is re-establishing trust.

"If that’s what it takes to get things back in order and get the public trust back with our police department, it will be worth it,” said Curry.

Three of the nine council members wanted to discuss the ordinance further tonight, but they were in the minority.

The council will get a second and third reading at a special meeting a week from Thursday.

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